ZTE innovates innovatively at MWC 2017

ZTE treated us to its MWC briefing with one message coming through strong and proud: they certainly think they are innovative.

That is not to say the team are not putting forward some interesting solutions, but the marketing strategy for ZTE is pretty clear; if we tell the world we are innovative enough times, the world will eventually get the idea. Over the course of the hour briefing we lost count at how many times the firm congratulated itself for being innovative, but eventually there were some product announcements as well.

Firstly, at MWC ZTE will be releasing a range of 5G mmWave and Sub6GHz pre-commercial base stations, where it will also attempt to demonstrate a 50 Gbps peak rate. The range makes use of MIMO, beam tracking and beam forming technologies to demonstrate various different use cases.

“ZTE will continue its innovation in the 5G field to meet the product and service needs of customers,” said Zhang Jianguo, SVP at ZTE. “ZTE will occupy a place in the world’s first 5G market and lay a solid foundation for the future Internet of Things.”

The team has also announced a partnership with Intel, which will see the pair launch a next generation 5G IT Baseband Unit (BBU), which is claimed to be the first SDN/NFV based 5G RAN solution. The SDN/NFV foundations ensures the BBU is compatible with 2G, 3G, 4G and pre-5G, while also supporting C-RAN, D-RAN and 5G Central and distributed units.

Finally, ZTE will also be launching a prototype for a Gigabit smartphone, which it believes is the first smartphone capable of delivering download speeds of up to 1 Gbps. Utilizing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform with a Snapdragon X16 modem, using a combination of carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO antenna technology and 256-QAM modulation to achieve the remarkable download speeds.

“We now have 4.3 billion smartphone users in the world, but what’s next? What about the next 10 years?” said Luo Wei, VP at ZTE and product lead for the devices and terminals.

“We believe the new smart terminals will evolve with emotion and AI. 5G, AI and big data are the new buzzwords. Everything is perception, everything is calculation and everything is sharing. Our new device will have emotion, AI and evolution. It will make our phone more human.”

The smartphone business does seem to be making progress. ZTE claims more than 75% of the sales are now international, taking it to the number six smartphone provider worldwide. It also believes it has 20% of the global mobile broadband market share. Moving forward, China, the US and Europe is the target for the team, focusing on user experience and (you guessed it) innovation.

In a world where the need for speed is becoming an everyday demand, with patience becoming a rare virtue, the launch of such a powerful product could be a strong move. It’s only a prototype for the moment, but the team think they will be able to get to market in the next year or two. Part of what is holding back the team currently is mobile infrastructure, but also the carriers not having suitable data plans to offer customers. It’s a PR play for the moment, but it’s a pretty good one.

Think of the stardom Apple achieved with the launch of the iPhone, should ZTE be able to deliver on the promise, it could certainly cause a stir in a stagnant smartphone market.

“The mission of our innovation team is to create a new experience for our users,” said Wei. “We want to bring our users a smarter experience.”

ZTE may occasionally be struggle to be heard due to the heavy noise being generated by its domestic competitor Huawei, but if you say nothing else about the company, ZTE wants you to know it’s innovative.

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